Plastic. It’s that simple. That was the answer, Hans, owner of Unawatuna Diving, a PADI 5 Star center in Sri Lanka gave me when I asked him about the biggest threats the ocean faces.
Sri Lanka, also known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is desperate for change. It's gorgeous coastlines and turquoise clear waters filled with marine life is under a lot of pressure from an increasing amount of unmanaged plastic pollution.
Hans comes from Germany and environmental issues have always been high on his agenda so since starting his diving business in 1999, he has been determined to do everything he can to make a difference. Supporting Project AWARE’s work financially through their long-standing 100% AWARE partnership and teaching the Dive Against Debris Specialty Course are just some of the eco credentials his dive center has under its belt. But just how much impact can one dive centre achieve? I hear you ask.
The instructors and dive masters returning from the morning dive were keen to gather around and hear first-hand just how important their actions through Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris really were. And they are so important. Every single item they remove from the ocean floor and report through the survey program is building a baseline of data and an understanding of the pollution issues in Sri Lanka - evidence that can influence policy changes for the better locally and globally. They were each keen to tell me about their own experiences and the items they are finding the most of. The energy was high! It was exciting and inspiring to be amongst a group of people (many locals) so dedicated to doing the best they can to protect the ocean.
But time is running out and more action is desperately needed. More underwater debris removal and reporting are vital for creating change.
Each item submitted through Dive Against Debris® is contributing to our #NextMillion2020 goal - to remove and report two million pieces of marine debris from the ocean floor by 2020. This is an ambitious goal but the ocean is in a desperate place so we have no choice but to step on the accelerator. Project AWARE needs divers all around the world to put their scuba skills to good use and report what for many people is out of sight, out of mind. Only divers have the skills required to collect underwater data which is essential if we are going to find long-term solutions to the marine debris crisis.
Unawatuna Diving Centre in Sri Lanka with hundreds of others worldwide are doing their part. But we need all hands on deck. Can you get involved and be part of achieving this critical goal by 2020?
If you are a scuba diver - take fins on action
If you are not a scuba diver - take fins off action
Top 3 pieces of eco-advice from Hans:
Do not use single-use plastic
Collect rubbish any time you visit the beach and dive in the ocean
Educate the local community